Underdogs Burkinabe can win Afcon – coach

2013-02-04 11:50

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Burkina Faso coach Paul Put believes his charges can do the unthinkable and lift the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations trophy.

The Stallions will face Ghana in the semifinals at Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday evening.

“We have to think positively about our next match because you never know what the outcome could be,” Put said.

They brushed past Togo with a 1-0 win courtesy of a Jonathan Pitroipa extra-time header.

The Burkinabe are a confident lot heading to the Ghanaian tie having qualified ahead of defending champions Zambia.

They also claimed a credible draw against Nigeria in the group stages, and are now fighting for a spot in Sunday’s final at the National Stadium.

“We know that Ghana is a big team,” said Put.

“But we have faced tough teams already in Nigeria and Zambia and got a point each from those games.”

The Belgian also admitted that he was shocked by the dedication of his troops in their tournament campaign.

The Burkinabe are now two wins away from earning the title of African champions and claiming the continental crown.

Little had been expected from the plucky outfit, more so in the absence of injured forward Alain Traore, who is in France where he is being assessed after an ankle injury.

This is the Burkinabe’s second semifinal spot after having reached this stage in 1998 under Frenchman Philippe Troussier.

“You can see that they are confident and committed, which is always nice to see by a coach,” Put said.

“We had a little doubt, especially after Togo had a few chances, but I’m happy and very proud of this team.

“The players have surprised me with how they have done but now the trick is to make sure that our feet are firmly on the ground in our preparations.”

Meanwhile, it was heartbreak for Togo, who return home after having achieved the milestone of a first appearance in the knockout stages.

The competition will now be without star Togolese attraction and Tottenham Hotspur forward Emmanuel Adebayor.

However, the Sparrow Hawks coach Didier Six, saw positives going forward.

The Frenchman said: “Overall it was a good tournament for us having qualified for the quarterfinals.

“We have a young team with a bright future.”

The first semifinal is on Wednesday afternoon, with Mali and Nigeria battling it out at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Mali defeated hosts Bafana Bafana in the previous round, while the Super Eagles stunned Africa’s number one team, Ivory Coast, to reach this phase.

The losing semifinalists will play a third- and fourth-place play-off match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

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